Feyenoord made a sluggish start to the game and the hosts were happy to profit. It meant that the Rotterdammers were chasing the game for most of the match, as FC Utrecht raced into a two-goal lead within just 17 minutes.
Serginho Greene was a major player in both. The right back was far too late with his tackle on Marc-Antoine Fortuné after eight minutes and there were no protests when referee Luinge awarded the spot kick, which Van Dijk converted.
Greene had a chance to make up for his error not long after when Nelisse lobbed the approaching Timmer, but all Greene could do was to help the ball into the net as the Feyenoorders found themselves with a mountain to climb.
The punch had Feyenoord on the ropes for a good while and the home side looked to land yet more punches. Nelisse had the best swipe, but despite acres of space his header went wide.
Erwin Koeman’s side looked to threaten themselves through Angelos Charisteas, Jonathan de Guzman and Danny Buijs, but all three efforts lacked precision. Indeed, the only player in a blue shirt to worry Michel Vorm in the home goal was Royston Drenthe. The left back was put in the clear by De Guzman and launched a diagonal drive from the flank, only to see Vorm scramble it away.
With Hofs and Vincken in for Greene and Kolkka Feyenoord went looking for a goal after the break and it seemed to be on the way. Lucius and Bahia had great chances with only the keeper to beat, but both failed.
As the clock ticked down however it became increasingly clear that the Rotterdammers lacked the incisiveness to take anything from the game. The hosts were pushed back at times, but Feyenoord were without much bite in the final third.
The goal almost came at the other end in fact. Timmer was alert to the danger as FC Utrecht countered, turning the ball round the post for a corner. Then Vorm was forced to give away a corner himself when substitute Ali Boussaboun rattled off an impressive shot.
Despite the two-goal cushion the home side were clearly nervous, as shown when Feyenoord failed to put the ball out of play with Caluwé injured on the deck. Rossini reacted a little too fiercely, kicking Lucius without any intention to play the ball, and was rewarded with a red card.
Feyenoord did manage to level it up man-wise before the end though, when Buijs picked up his second yellow of the afternoon. By that time the Rotterdammers had a consolation through a close-range Ron Vlaar shot, but that was clearly all they were destined to take from the match.
FC Utrecht – Feyenoord 2-1
9’ 1-0 Van Dijk (pen)
17’ 2-0 Nelisse
88’ 2-1 Vlaar
Bookings: Greene, Charisteas, Drenthe, Buijs, Kruys
Sending off: Rossini (83’ straight red), Buijs (90’ 2x yellow)
Feyenoord: Timmer; Greene (46’ Hofs), Vlaar, Bahia, Drenthe (79’ Boussaboun); Buijs, Lucius, De Guzman; Kolkka (46’ Vincken), Van Hooijdonk, Charisteas
FC Utrecht: Vorm; Cornelisse, Dickoh, Keller, Shew-Atjon; Caluwé, Van Dijk, Kruys (71’ De Jong), Kopteff (76’ Somers); Nelisse (76’ Rossini), Fortuné